Armored Saint - Punching The Sky review


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Band: Armored Saint
Album: Punching The Sky
Release date: October 2020

01. Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants
02. End Of The Attention Span
03. Bubble
04. My Jurisdiction
05. Do Wrong To None
06. Lone Wolf
07. Missile To Gun
08. Fly In The Ointment
09. Bark, No Bite
10. Unfair
11. Never You Fret

Time to show that sky who's boss.

Ah the infamous Armored Saint, a band who seemed tailor-made for big things, seemingly always on the cusp of bigger and better things, constantly threatening to break big and live up to their potential. While unfortunately the band never broke big the way they should have, they have developed a strong reputation as a band who consistently released quality records time and again. Ever since their return as a semi-active band ten years ago with La Raza, the L.A. metallers have produced some stellar work. Punching The Sky keeps this run of solid albums going and will please fans who have waited five years for the next release; just because Armored Saint are a part-time project does not mean that the band does not put a hundred per cent effort into their work when active.

Armored Saint produce the kind of metal that you can flip on and instantly find yourself hooked on; from their debut record through to Win Hands Down, the band have developed a knack for writing songs that sound familiar quick. Punching The Sky differs somewhat I must confess; aside from "My Jurisdiction", none of the tracks clicked with me on the first few listens. Several listens later, however, and suddenly the tracks were full of life and quality; it is strange that songs that seem eminently so full of quality were slow burners to me like "Bark, No Bite" and "Missile To Gun". However, once that lightswitch has been hit you can't help but put Punching The Sky on repeat.

Once all the pieces have fallen into place, you begin to appreciate the quality each track contains, the band managing to fill all eleven tracks with quality song writing and musicianship. While the album is sonically diverse, with each track having its own identity and ensuring a varied experience for listeners, what the band ensure each track has is a memorable and strong chorus that will have you humming or singing along to. From the morose refrain of "Lone Wolf" to the concert-made "End Of The Attention Span" that will have you punching the air with glee, each song is anchored by a strong chorus that will keep you listening again and again.

While each track is diverse, they do share one other common thread other than featuring strong choruses, that being the overuse of mid-paced sections at the beginning of a track or before the verses kick in. "Bubble", "Do Wrong To None" and "Lone Wolf" are just three examples of tracks that feature similar (though not the same) parts that do little but pad out the songs; when you consider the quality of the choruses, you do find yourself just waiting for them to kick in.

What helps separate Punching The Sky from being just another run-of-the-mill late career album (other than track titles like "Bubble" and "Fly In The Ointment", two song titles that are probably the least metal you will hear this year) is the conviction in the band's performance. While I am a sucker for Bush's singing, he produces the kind of performance that will underline why he should be considered one of the best vocalists in metal, from the ruminations of "Unfair" to the all-out power of "Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants". The Sandoval brothers remain on of the stronger familial duos in music outside of AC/DC, while Vera holds down the low end with ease.

The band are deft hands at their craft, though like every band they have their strengths and weaknesses, and luckily they don't produce an outright poor track. While "Unfair" and "Fly In The Ointment" are good in concept, they are easily the worst tracks on the album. The slow and atmospheric tracks stray on the wrong side of minimalistic and come off as barren and empty; while the band play down the centre and pull you back in as if tethered to them, you do find yourself wondering around the void as the songs play out. The songs are worth listening to, but they will likely be the songs where your attention wavers the most.

The strengths far outweigh the weaknesses, which is a huge boon for listeners, with tracks like "End Of The Attention Span", "My Jurisdiction", "Missile To Gun" and "Never You Fret" being some of the best material of the band's career. While these songs are some of the more up-tempo tracks on the records, they each retain a strong separation from each other and have their own identities.

Punching The Sky is a must for fans of Armored Saint and for anyone who likes their metal down the middle and undiluted with subgenres or commercial concerns. Once again they bang loudly on the glass ceiling that has stood above them for their careers; while the band should have broke on through to superstardom decades ago, they can at least lay claim to being one of the best kings of the underground in metal.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 8


Written on 01.11.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 75 users
01.11.2020 - 21:31
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
I dont remember Ra Laza album, but Win hands Down was blast, it nailed, maybe one of best 80's bands today has written, but this blown away that and jump higher, simply killer.
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
02.11.2020 - 02:09
It was a shame that Bush went to Anthrax after the fantastic Symbol Of Salvation because Anthrax turned to shit and Armored Saint disbanded. They are great musicians, always have been. I listened only once to this album and it didn't grab me apart from the three singles and one or two more songs. But I will listen again since you say you had a similar experience, I like this band and they definitely deserve a couple of more listens.
02.11.2020 - 14:04
Amazing Mapman
Written by nikarg on 02.11.2020 at 02:09

It was a shame that Bush went to Anthrax after the fantastic Symbol Of Salvation because Anthrax turned to shit ...

I think Sound Of White Noise is magnificent. And We've Come For You All is also very nice.

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